A man from St. Joseph is being charged with murder for causing a car accident earlier this month. While manslaughter charges are more common, murder charges like these can follow from fatal car crashes that happen during another crime. However, the effect they have on a personal injury case is less than you might expect.
Car Accident Leads to Criminal Charges
The incident happened back on August 2, 2019, at the intersection of South 6th Street and Oak Street in St. Joseph.
A 2019 Ford F-250, which had been stolen, was speeding in the wrong lane when it hit an oncoming van.
The driver of the van was killed in the crash. An 11-year-old in the van was also hurt.
The driver of the stolen pickup truck was hurt, as was a minor in the vehicle.
Criminal charges were filed against the driver of the pickup truck for tampering with a vehicle.
Driver Now Being Charged With Felony Murder
Under Missouri Statute 569.080, tampering with a vehicle is a Class D felony.
The fact that it is a felony is crucially important because any death that happens during the commission of a felony in Missouri becomes a second degree murder. This is Missouri’s felony murder law, found at Missouri Statute 565.021(2).
As a result, the driver of the pickup truck is being charged with murder, rather than manslaughter, for causing the car crash that killed the other driver.
The difference is not small. Second degree murder is a Class A felony that carries between 10 and 30 years in jail. First degree involuntary manslaughter – the charge people usually face for recklessly driving and causing a crash – is a Class C felony in Missouri that carries between 3 and 10 years in jail.
How the Charges Can Impact a Wrongful Death Case
Personal injury cases can be filed even after a fatal car crash. Instead of the injured victim seeking compensation for their losses, though, it is the deceased person’s legal rights being invoked by their loved ones.
To win a wrongful death case, you have to show that the person you are suing was behaving negligently when they caused the fatal crash.
Ironically, the felony murder charge against the driver of the pickup truck are going to be less helpful in a wrongful death case than a driving citation for the driver being on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash. Felony murder charges do not require any level of intent or even negligence on the part of the defendant. A traffic citation for going over the yellow line, on the other hand, can be used to show that the driver was negligent.
St. Joseph Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
The car accident and personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph can legally represent you after a car crash. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for the legal help you need.